Volume. XXI, No. 28
Sunday, 07 January 2007

From the pastors heart: Affluenza

Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss published a book, Affluenza, in 2005. They define the word, affluenza, as (1) the bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses, (2) An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the Australian dream, and (3) an unsustainable addiction to economic growth. In this book, they analyzed the ever-want-more society and human greed.  I thought this topic is the most suitable one to begin with this new year. In order to walk in the Spirit, there are a few things we need to consider. One of them is to have right perspectives of riches or money. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Serving God and loving money do not and cannot go together. Without God, we are doomed to eternal damnation, and without money we cannot survive. We are costly beings from the moment of conception till death. Therefore, riches is a part of our necessities. Then, how can we have right perspectives of money and live right without sinning against God? 

First, it is important for us to know that God blesses His people physically as well as spiritually. I do not say it as an universal principle. We all know that many of the godly and righteous ones have suffered with infirmities and poverty. Therefore, poverty is not an universal sign of God’s displeasure, either. By the same token, we must not say that the rich are rich because they are worldly and secular people. Genesis 13:2 says, “And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” Abraham’s servant was proud of his master’s wealth in Genesis 24:35, “And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses.” Deuteronomy 8:10 says, “When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.”  Proverbs 10:22 also says, “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” Therefore, it is possible that Christians can be both spiritual and rich. Of course, I wish that all Hopefuls and those who love the Lord will not suffer physical poverty. 

Second, it is equally important for us to know that God warns us about covetousness. Luke 12:15 says, “And he [Jesus] said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Very unfortunately, even among professing Christians, money talks and money is the king. The accumulation of money is the goal and purpose of life. To such people, Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”  Jesus says in Matthew 6:19, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” Proverbs 23:5 says, “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” Proverbs 11:28, “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.”   

Third, it is important for us to know that the attraction of money is very strong.  Otherwise, Jesus and His apostles did not have to warn us in such a strong manner. The ministers of God’s Word are not free from the temptation of money. Thus, when Paul testified of his Christian life, he said in Acts 20:33, “I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.”  If a man does not have clean hands on money, he is not able to serve.  Micah 3:11 speaks of it, “The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us.” It was the reality of the nation of Israel.  Then, we need to turn to ourselves. Aren’t we the lovers of money? God blessed Israel, and Israel did something else when they got rich! They forsook God (Deuteronomy 31:20; 32:15).   

Fourth, it is important for us to know that we need to examine our hearts in terms of money.  There are two simple questions we may ask, if we are really serious enough to know our hearts about money: (1) What is the purpose of getting riches? and (2) how am I using my money for the Lord? Sometimes it is good to read Proverbs 13:7, “There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.”  Proverbs 15:16 says, “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.” Proverbs 27:24 says, “For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?”   

Australia is one of the richest countries in the world. Australians today are earning real income three times higher than people in the 1950s, but majority of people still feel that they have difficulty making ends meet. Today’s Australians definitely possess more than what people had in the previous generation. However, they are ever raising the threshold of desire constantly, which creates an endless cycle of self-deception. Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss found a good example of so called luxury fever in our societies. It is the changing system of credit cards. Till about 10 years ago, the gold credit card was a mark of distinction. Today, even people like me use a gold card for various reasons. Then, the credit card companies began to produce platinum cards. Now, even a platinum credit card is not a mark of prestige any more because people like me have received promotional letters about this. Thus, AMEX began to produce the Centurion for higher incomers. The market consumerism constantly challenges the consumers to be hungry for more and more. Thus, more and more people are falling into a trap of more shopping and more accumulating, even though all data show us that successfully pursuing materialistic goals still fail to increase our happiness. Then, some people may say that money is the problem for all of us. No, in fact, the real problem lies in our attachment to money and material possessions, and the way they condition our thinking. The real problem is not that we own things, but that things own us.  The problem is not affluence but affluenza. If we fail to see the difference between having money and being attached to money, we are living for money, and money is our master. Unfortunately, man has an insatiable greed for more things. Affluence is not bad. The bad thing is that when we become affluent we do not know when and how to stop our greed.  We feel that we need more, and have to have more. Getting more becomes an obsession.   

It is my prayer that we are not victims of affluenza. We have too much, rather than too little.  Let us serve God, not our mammon.

                                          Lovingly, Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question  78: What is forbidden in the ninth commandment? The ninth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbour’s good name.

Please pray for health & God’s healing: Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, Rev David Koo, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, & Winston Selvanayagam; Sisters Sheila George, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Aranka Rejtoe (Royal Adelaide Hospital), Chrisanthi Selvanayagam, Juanita Tong, Susan Veradi, & Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Auntie Oei & others in affliction. "The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.” (Ps 121:5).

Please pray for – a) Cambodia Missions - Rev Moses Hahn & Ministry (Sihanoukville); Bro Samnang’s & Sis Shulamy’s ministry); b) Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam; c) Pastors & believers in India & Pakistan; Ps Ki - as he prepares to speak in India; d) Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim; e) Journey Mercies - Bro Raphael & Sis Bernadette Ng (S’pore); Bro John Wong (Brisbane); Sis Amanda Fu (Adl); Miss Samantha Foo (Auckland); & others travelling during the summer vacation; f) More rain - to end the drought in Australia; g) God’s guidance - those in authority in Australia; h) Hopefuls & worshippers overseas & interstate; i) Persecuted brethren - in Islamic & Communist countries; j) Hospital placement for completion of Masters degree - Bro Eu-Jzin Tan.

Praise and Thank God for – a) BSAG, Joy & Maranatha Prayer & Bible Study meetings; YAF Share & Prayer; b) Journey mercies - Dn Tony & Sis Sally Law (Adl); Bro Lincoln Law (Hobart); Sisters Marion Chan (KL), Mag Yu (Adl), Shu Siang Lo & Kwan family (Melb); Mrs Annie Tee (Johor); c) Watch-Night Service -  for the many who came forward to share their testimonies; d) Success - Year 12 students passing their examinations.

Special Prayers for overseas missions - for YAF Hopefuls (and brethren from BPCWA, Perth) participating in street evangelism in Singapore on Sat 20 Jan.

Adult & Children RPG for the next qrtr available on the Literature table.  A gold coin donation will be much appreciated.

Looking Ahead: Outing for Sunday School students on Australia Day, Fri 26 Jan, at Tusmore Park. All are welcome to join. For more details, please see Dn Edwin D’Mello.

Looking Ahead: Vacation Bible School 2007 - Parents and families, please note that VBS 2007 will be from 17 - 21 July, 2007.  Speaker: Bro. Gabriel Lee (Perth, WA).  Please keep these dates free.

Attendance: Last Lord’s Day: 91. Pre-service: 6. Watch-Night: 47. BSAG: 8. YAF: 12.



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